Ship dips overseas

'Titanic' still leads pack

It was too good to last. After hauling in more than $55 million overseas for eight weeks straight, “Titanic” finally dipped last week. But its $51.7 million bounty on 6,238 screens in 52 territories was something other distribs would die for, and its foreign cume soared to $719.4 million.

Expect a considerable uplift for James Cameron’s blockbuster this week after the Academy Awards, as 20th Century Fox pressed the button on a booster campaign that started with short TV spots in many territories over the weekend.The maritime disaster epic could peak at $750 million by March 23, and appears headed for upwards of $850 million; a fistful of major Oscars conceivably could send this phenom towards $1 billion overseas.

Slugging it out for “Titanic’s” top territory are France’s $89.2 and Germany’s $88.6 million. One Teutonic booker rates “Titanic” as unique, marveling that while “Independence Day,” “Jurassic Park” and “Men in Black” all were great, none was as “constant.”

It’s now Fox’s all-time B.O. champ in Japan at $86.1 million and rising, after overtaking “Die Hard With a Vengeance’s” $83 million.

In the U.K., the ocean liner cruised past “Jurassic Park” with $82.1 million to stand as that market’s second-highest grosser ever, now poised to beat “The Full Monty” ($85 million) which is in video stores.

Other cumes include Italy’s $52.2 million, Spain’s $32.4 million and Australia’s $28.8 million, where it’s certain to surpass “Crocodile Dundee” to become the No. 1 title in history.

In the super-hit’s wake, “Tomorrow Never Dies,” “The Full Monty,” “As Good as It Gets,” “The Jackal” and “Good Will Hunting” all had healthy debuts last week.

However, some European exhibs said biz was brittle beneath Fox’s colossus. “A mediocre week,” said one Italian tradester, despite “Monty’s” boisterous $1.5 million in four days on 90, benefiting from heavy media attention on unemployment and how that issue is treated in British films such as “Monty” and “Brassed Off.” “Monty’s” cume is $178.9 million.

In its last major date, “Tomorrow Never Dies” charged into Japan with a robust $3.1 million in five days on 207. That pushed the cume to $195 million and its calendar year gross to $107 million: only the second film (after “Titanic”) to cross that milestone so far this year.

“As Good as It Gets” harvested about $12 million on 2,212 screens in 36 markets from a combo of preems in the U.K., Mexico and several smaller markets, as well as holdovers. The estimated total is $50 million.

Michael Caton-Jones’ “The Jackal” hit the target in Germany, shrugging off poor reviews, bagging $3.3 million on 358. The cume is a sturdy $72.9 million, eclipsing domestic’s $54 million, and with Japan and six smaller markets to come, it could climb to $100 million.

Gus Van Sant’s “Good Will Hunting” was greeted by positive notices and a rousing $2 million on 147 in Australia, but was soft in Sweden. The Miramax pic’s cume is about $25 million in 23 territories. It’s healthy enough in the U.K., Germany and France, but generally performing well below its U.S. trajectory.

Ticket sales in France are falling. “Desperate Measures” had an underwhelming debut, and “The Ice Storm” was blah.

France has given Clint Eastwood and Warner Bros. a bit of solace for “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” which entered Paris at No. 2 and nationally in the fourth spot, clocking a respectable $1 million on 196.

“Amistad” is proving to be a tough sell also, reflected in its soft bows in Taiwan, Sweden and Argentina, although the response was a bit more enthusiastic in Italy ($572,000 in six days on 99) and Portugal ($210,000 on 35). The cume is $17.6 million.

David Fincher’s “The Game” unspooled in Italy with a pleasing $1.2 million in six days on 170, and its tally topped $58 million, comfortably ahead of domestic’s $45.4 million. The Polygram pic’s strongest markets have been Japan’s $11.1 million, Germany’s $7.6 million, France’s $7.2 million and Italy’s $6 million.

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